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How to Do the Ketogenic Diet Vegan

My Exact Plan for Achieving Ketosis as a Vegan

The ketogenic diet or keto diet has been gaining popularity recently. You may have seen people consuming large amounts of greasy meats and dairy while on this type of program and yet losing weight in the process, say what!?

Technically all these high fat foods are completely allowed on this diet and carbs are nearly eliminated. Now many vegans and vegetarians are getting curious about how the ketogenic lifestyle can be incorporated within plant-based living.

I'm going to clear that up right now.

I'll show you exactly how ketosis can help you lose weight, balance hormones and even reverse the worst of conditions AND all while remaining completely PLANT-BASED.

You just need a bit of preparation.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet takes a different approach to weight loss and health. It works so well simply because it changes the very energy source the body uses as its main fuel to do it's normal functions. 
 
So when you go keto, you go from burning glucose for energy to burning fat for your energy needs - that is once ketosis, a physiological state, has been reached.
 
And even better than just its fat-burning potential, research shows that the ketogenic diet helps fight serious diseases, even cancer and Alzheimer's. (1,2
 
This type of diet was originally designed by John Hopkins Medical Center researchers in the 1920's. Basically the ketogenic diet works by triggering the body into a fasting state by stopping the influx of glucose. 
How does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
When glucose levels drop off due to consuming a diet low in carbs, the body starts to burn fat instead of glucose and produces ketones that can actually be measured in the blood.
 
Our body does not produce glucose on it's own. However, it converts what we eat into glucose. So when we stop bringing in carbs we have approximately 24 hours of glucose stored in our muscles and liver.
 
Once glucose is no longer coming into the body, we instead begin to burn stored body fat or fat from our diets.
 
Due to this process, most people will notice that they burn body fat rather quickly on the ketogenic diet, even though they are getting lots of fat through their diet.
 
That's why this type of diet is great for people who have tried many diets but have failed to lose weight.  
 
Isn't this like the Atkins Diet? 
Keto is somewhat similar to Atkins in that it's main goal is to reduce carbs significantly. However, the main distinguishing factors between these two diets is that the keto diet encourages more healthy fats, not as much protein (especially processed meats) and the keto diet has more research to back up its effectiveness at treating many health ailments.
 
What is Ketosis? 
Let's talk physiology. So as I explained above when the body doesn't have glucose to burn, the body turns to fat for it's needs and produces ketones as a result.
 
These ketones will be used as fuel. Once these ketone levels rise in the blood, you enter into a physiological state of ketosis. Ketosis occurs after the liver breaks down fat molecules into simpler components such as individual fatty acids and glycerol. This is called beta-oxidation.
 
Then these are further broken down into an energy-rich ketones that circulate in the bloodstream. The end result is the body regularly being fueled by these circulating ketones or ketone bodies in the blood.
What Can I Eat on the Keto Diet As a Vegan?
I know most people who do keto are loading up on eggs, chicken, turkey, cheese and butter. Basically they are fully surviving off the backs of a bunch of other animals.
 
And because of that, yes they achieve ketosis, yes they lose weight, however they also become quite acidic due to the consumption of so many animal products. 
 
However, we can achieve ketosis while remaining alkaline and sticking to a plant-based diet minus the dairy, meat and eggs. 
 
A typical ketogenic diet consists of getting about 75% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbohydrates. 
 
To start to transition to nutritional ketosis you should get about 30–50 net grams of carbohydrates (I'll talk about NET carbs down in the 'Important Things to Consider' section). 
 
Once you get comfortable with this, it is advised to stay under about 35 net grams of carbs/day. Typically most people enter into a ketosis state after about 3–4 days of fasting or following a very low-carbohydrate diet
 
To achieve nutritional ketosis on a PLANT- BASED diet, you can consume the following: 
  • Vegan protein — hemp, pea protein isolate, tempeh, tofu, seitan, or other store bought low carb meat alternatives
  • Fats – Olives, avocado, MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil, nut oils, vegan butter alternatives
  • Dairy replacements – unsweetened coconut-based yogurt, coconut cream, vegan cheeses, nut cheeses
  • Above ground vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, squash, zucchini
  • Mushrooms 
  • Leafy greens
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Omega sources – flax seeds, chia seeds 
  • Berries – Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and low glycemic berries
  • Fermented foods — sauerkraut, kimchi
  • Sea vegetables — dulse, kelp, nori
  • Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, monk fruit and low carb sweeteners
Avoid the following: 
  • Animal meats
  • Animal dairy
  • Eggs
  • Grains – bread, wheat, rice, corn, cereal
  • Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, apples, bananas, oranges and other high sugar fruit
  • Legumes — lentils, black beans, chickpeas
  • Tubers – potato, yams
I also have included a 1-day vegan ketogenic menu plan later in this article. 
 
Free Ketogenic Vegan Guide + Recipes - Get the PDF here.
Some Killer Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
Weight Loss
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a keto diet was better for long term weight management and even lowered cardiovascular risk when compared with the conventional low-fat diet. (3)
 
Fat is more packed with energy than it's counterparts protein and carbohydrates. It's no wonder the body stores energy as fat.  Carbs and protein contain 4 calories per gram, while fat provides 9 calories per gram.
 
Because of this a diet high in fat tend to be quite filling for longer periods which helps those who tend to struggle with blood sugar yo-yo-ing and feeling hungry often throughout the day. (4)
 
Longevity
If we want to live longer we've got to dodge major diseases throughout a lifetime. Cancer being a big risk considering 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with it at some point in their life time. 
 
Not only has the ketogenic diet been affective at helping many types of cancers, it's been shown to allow us to live longer.
 
In one large study, a high carbohydrate diet was associated with higher risk of mortality, whereas a diet higher in total fat were related to lower total mortality. (5)
 
Hormone Balance
Dr. Anna Cabeca, an ObGyn, claims that following an ALKALINE ketogenic diet may be one of the most effective diets for both women and men to balance hormones naturally. 
 
Often a typical ketogenic diet is highly acidic, but when focusing on eating foods that help you to remain alkaline it can even more effective. This is great news for plant-based eaters.
 
Those who have gone through Dr. Cabeca's alkaline ketogenic program have had weight loss, better blood glucose control and reduced symptoms like hot flashes or night sweats surrounding menopause.
 
Improved Brain Health
As mentioned before, when you go into ketosis, the body begins using ketone bodies for it's main fuel source. 
 
With circulating ketone bodies, the brain is able to use this alternative fuel source instead of other energy pathways that haven't been functioning normally in people with brain and cognitive disorders.
 
One study suggested the ketogenic diet can be a therapy for several neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, sleep disorders, multiple sclerosis, autism, epilepsy and brain cancer. (6) 
 
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Contrary to what many might think, the keto diet most typically does not cause an increase in blood triglycerides. Actually it’s known to lower cardiovascular disease risk. (7)
 
What's even more shocking in light of what many of us have been taught, saturated fat consumption has an inverse correlation with the risk of cardiovascular events. So the more saturated fat one consumes, the less likely they are to have cardiovascular issues like stroke. (8) Wow! 
 
Helps Type II Diabetes
The keto diet can be wonderful for diabetes patients. When you take carbohydrates off the table, pun intended, you directly affect the body's need for insulin.
 
As a result, insulin is no longer needed nearly as much and blood glucose levels balance out. This is great news for those with insulin resistance. When you eat carbs, that is then converted into glucose.
 
This glucose can't just sit in the blood, it must be stored. So beta cells in the pancreas release insulin to carry the glucose out of the bloodstream and store it elsewhere like in the liver and muscle.
 
In insulin resistance, muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher and higher levels of insulin to get the job done. This wears out the organs especially the pancreatic cells. 
 
Bottom line: Eat less carbs, have less glucose in the blood, need less insulin and allow the body to recover from maxed out and overworked pancreatic cells. 
 
Note: Diabetics should work with their doctor while doing this diet. Also if using insulin definitely consult your physician prior to starting a ketogenic diet, because insulin dosages likely will need adjusted.
Ketogenic (Plant-Based) Meal Plan
This is an example meal plan based on the desire to transition to a ketogenic diet and get approximately 45 grams of net carbs, 155 grams of fat and 70 grams of protein
 
Keto Green Smoothie
2 cups Kale
6 scoops of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 powder
1 avocado
3/4 cup blueberries
1 Tablespoon Amazing Grass Raw Reserve Green Superfood
Smoothie Net Carbs = 24 grams
 
Go Nuts "Cereal"
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
Cereal Net Carbs = 8 grams
 
Creamy Rose Sauce Noodles
Store bought kelp noodles
Nut cream sauce:
1/2 cup macadamia nuts 
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
fresh thyme
1/4 cup almond meal
Creamy Noodles Net Carbs = 12 grams
 
Total Menu Net Carbs = 44 grams 
Click here to get the full vegan ketogenic menu plan + exact recipes (including the yummy dessert chocolate coconut fat bombs!)
Important Things to Keep in Mind
Net Carbs
“Net carbs” are the amount of carbs remaining in a particular food once dietary fiber is subtracted. Because fiber is not digested and moves right through you, most people on keto don’t count the grams of fiber within their carb count.
 
For example if a food has 12 grams of carbs per serving but also has 6 grams of dietary fiber, it has 6 grams of total net carbs. (12 grams carbs - 6 grams fiber = 6 net carbs). These net carbs are all you need to be concerned with when maintaining a ketogenic diet. 
 
Determining How Much Protein You Need
Protein intake should be around 1 gram per kilogram (some people may need 1.5 gram/kilogram) of your lean body mass.
 
So first convert your current weight or ideal weight from pounds to kilograms. 
Ideal weight in pounds / 2.2 = weight in kilograms
 
For example, a person who weighs (or wants to weigh) 145 pounds will be approx 66 kilograms in weight.
 
So this person needs about 66 grams of protein per day. It could be a bit more than that if you're very active or athletic.
 
Also keep in mind some people do very well getting a bit more protein in their diet and some do well on getting a bit less. But this is a good number to start out with. 
 
How to Track Carbs
When you first start out on any diet plan, especially one limiting carbs, it's quite helpful to use one of the many apps that are designed for tracking your food macronutrients. 
 
One great app I use for this is called My Fitness Pal. You can download the app to your phone or you can use it on desktop as well. 
 
When you first start going keto, you'll be amazed at how many carbs are in many types of foods you wouldn't even expect to have carbs.
 
I was shocked to find out that yep nuts, beans and legumes have carbs. So this app helps you input the food you eat and see the net carbs of each food.  
 
How Long Can You Do the Keto Diet for?
The ketogenic diet is really not ideal to be done forever. It's best done for 30 days or up to 3 months and then cycling back and forth from high fat diet to high carb diet from there on out.
 
And in fact, doing ketogenic intermittent fasting or carb cycling can be a GREAT way to incorporate the fat burning and health benefits of ketosis when doing 100% keto is too difficult for you. That brings me to my next point.  
A Word on Vegan Protein Sources
It's a bit hard getting good protein in general for vegans, especially when just starting out. But on keto it's even harder because beans, legumes are pretty much off the table because they are high carb.  
 
I'll give you a list of great keto protein sources, however I tend to try to avoid eating lots of soy due to concerns with soy. I'll include soy based products, but just keep in mind I do not recommend eating a lot of soy based products on the regular. 
 
Nuts & Seeds
These have lots of protein as well as other vitamins and minerals as a bonus. My favorites being macadamia, cashews, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed and chia seed. But just make sure you are considering the carb content in these, which is where My Fitness Pal app comes in handy.
 
Another great and yummy option is nut butters and nut "cheese." Not only do these have great fat content they also have higher protein.  
 
Hemp Protein & Pea Protein Isolate
These are a god send. I rely heavily on my hemp protein powders. I put them in my smoothies and I also mix them in other foods to up my protein content. You can also use pea protein, but my favorite is hemp. My favorite brand you can find here. 
 
Tofu & Tempeh
Tofu is processed from soybeans and it's high in protein and calcium.Tofu absorbs spices and marinades readily. When cooked right, it can taste very delicious. You can buy very soft tofu or very firm tofu depending on what your recipe calls for. 
 
Tempeh is a more natural form of soybeans, meaning it's less processed and it's fermented. It's firmer than tofu and has a more grainy texture. With tempeh it's not wet like tofu so you don't have to press it All you have to do is slice it up for your favorite recipe. 
 
Faux Meats
You can always find an assortment of faux meats in the grocery store. Make sure you check out the ingredients though. If it's loaded up with ingredients you don't know or added sugars then it's best to avoid it.
 
Typically many of these do have high protein content but look for products with simple ingredients and with the lowest net carb content.
How to Do a Ketogenic Diet Vegan - Conclusions
  • When you do a ketogenic diet, you go from burning glucose for energy to burning fat for your energy needs - that is once ketosis, a physiological state, has been reached.
  • The keto diet has been shown to be effective for weight loss, hormonal imbalance, Alzheimer's, reducing cardiovascular risk, fighting cancer and can help us live longer.
  • An important aspect often missed in typical ketogenic diets is the need for alkalinity in the diet. Doing keto as a plant-based vegan allows for nutritional ketosis to be achieved while also remaining in a alkaline physiological state.
  • Get my 1-Day Vegan Ketogenic Menu Plan here.

If you're overwhelmed and need even more guidance, email me at support@TheZeroPointLife.com 

Or feel free to check out the Mini Cleanse I use for myself and clients that has all the supplements, menu plans and recipes for a plant based cleanse.

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